Wind and Weather

ChristinaRossettiPoems from childhood are especially memorable for me. As a child, I memorized poems written by (among others) Victorian poet Christina Rossetti. (The sketch to the right was drawn by her brother, Dante Gabriel Rossetti.) From time to time, I’m reminded of Christina’s simple but profound eight-line vignette, Who Has Seen the Wind? It goes like this:

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.

Last week, we had an amazing display of wind in our region. One moment, the sky was clear with a storm visible to the west. Within minutes, the storm had blown in. At first, there wasn’t any rain, but the dirt-and-gravel road in front of our home churned with dust cyclones that reached twenty feet into the air. We were watching out a window as the blasts of air carried particles of debris and bent the trees violently. The wind’s impact against the house convinced us to move away from the windows. Eventually, one of the trees lining our drive toppled over. Continue Reading →

Like, Ring the Bell

My Beloved and I tend to be Grammar Nazis. When our children were young, there was a black and silver bell in the middle of the kitchen table. If one of us (adults included) used “Uh” or “Um” or “You know” or “like” as conversational fillers, these infractions earned a ring of the bell. On occasion, the repeated dinging made coherent conversation difficult, but this was a helpful exercise and we learned from it. (Truthfully, we’ve talked about re-instituting the bell because it’s so easy to become lazy in our speech!)bell

In recent weeks, Weird Al Yankovic’s Word Crimes video has made the rounds on social media. An amusing video, Word Crimes tackles common errors / blunders / unacceptable shortcuts found in written English. It’s a clever presentation.

Before I go further, please allow a word in my defense. While I readily admit to being a Grammar Nazi, I’m not heartless or cruel (most of the time). When I catch a grammar or spelling faux pas, I usually keep it to myself … unless my Beloved is there and we can share a laugh (discreetly). But I hasten to add, I’ve found errors I myself have committed – and failed to catch in proofreading. Those errors are by far more painful to me than any amusement I receive from the errors of others. Just sayin’. Continue Reading →

What Drives You?

This is the story of a little girl, fun-loving, intelligent, warm. During her early years, she was blessed with the love of a supportive extended family and meaningful friendships with her peers. Only the most minimal misfortunes or disappointments have crossed her path and her life was generally good.little-girl-1

It’s hard to identify a single event or set of circumstances that created what I’ll call a wrinkle in her psyche, but that wrinkle rooted and grew. She developed an almost insatiable drive to be noticed.

Though short of stature, the child was blessed with a lovely voice as well as musical talent. Before she entered school, she’d already played the title part in a Christmas musical, The Littlest Angel. While still an elementary school student, she played another title role in a school-wide musical production of Hansel and Gretel. Audiences applauded the child’s clear, strong vocal delivery and the poise of her youthful presentation.

So strong was her voice, it became an issue during one choir recording session. Because of her diminutive stature, the girl stood front and center in the first row with other choir members. After an initial run-through, studio engineers suggested changes, one of which was to relocate that little girl standing in front. Continue Reading →

Life Is A Gift

On Wiseblooding, I post periodically about abortion. It’s an issue about which I feel strongly. I am unwaveringly pro-life. Back in the late 70s, I composed a simple poem that summed up the debate of that time. Those were the days when discussion seemed more focused on the specious question:  When does life really begin?

Over time, this question was shoved aside, because for many supporters of abortion, it didn’t really matter. Whether life was judged to begin at conception or later (as late as the child celebrating his/her second or third birthday), these individuals supported abortion without regulation or reservations.

As you read the poem below, please imagine in your mind’s eye the intertwined strands of cascading human DNA. The short lines and sustained simple rhymes are meant to evoke that image.

Epitaph, abortion, down-syndrome, termination, infanticide, poem, poetry, verse

Poem: Epitaph

Guitar Man

Norman_with_guitarToday is my dad’s 92nd birthday. He has been gone from this world for twenty years, but as one might suspect, his influence continues. I’ve posted about him here (2010) and here (2014).

To the best of my knowledge, the picture at left was snapped while he was stationed in France with the Army during World War II. It’s an unusual picture to me, because I don’t remember having seen my dad play a guitar, ever. I do recall he once owned a mandolin (and memory suggests it may have been his mother’s) but I think if I witnessed him playing that instrument, it may have been a single occasion.

Dad loved music, but he mostly used his voice as his instrument. Later in life, he purchased an organ (mentioned in the second post linked above).

After coming home from work in the evenings and eating dinner with the family, my dad would retire to a comfortable chair in the living room where he’d read the evening newspaper for a bit, and eventually sit down at the organ to play … sometimes for an hour or more. He was a man who worked hard everyday (whether at his job or around the house) and he treasured this contemplative opportunity.

Oftentimes as a youngster, I’d fall asleep to the sounds of his organ music. (He learned to play well, though not fancifully.) In my experience, his nightly practice became a rhythm of life (a concept I referred to yesterday) that helped to sweep away (in a sense) the day’s chaos and to usher me into a peaceful night’s sleep.

This ongoing inculcation of music appreciation wasn’t the single influence that encouraged my love of music, but it was a powerful one. When I was in my teens, I recall following my dad’s example:  as the evening progressed into night, I’d retreat to the organ and enjoy my own contemplative recess.

Growing up in the transitional 50s and free-wheeling 60s, I think I probably gave my dad his share of gray hairs because he was a perpetual worrier. Today, I realize it wasn’t so much that he thought I’d crash and burn, but it was because in his teen years, he’d come close to doing so himself. (He and his brothers were something of a wild bunch apparently.) Three of the four brothers went to war … and came back men. The eldest stayed home, caring for their mom, and that responsibility matured him as well.

Dr. Howard G. Hendricks (one of my Beloved’s long-ago professors) frequently told his students:  One of the best things you can do for your children is to love their mother.

My daddy modeled that guideline throughout his life. I know he and my mother must have had numerous disagreements, but I only remember one instance where their conflict was so severe my dad walked out the door and took a drive. When he returned an hour or two later, they spoke privately and the quarrel was over. This was a terrific example for me to see how much my daddy loved and honored my mother.

My dad wrote the poem below in 1983. As a love poem to his bride of 37 years, he was striving for a simple poem to express his strong love; in other words, his ambition was focused on love, not timeless original literature. If the poem seems trite, that’s irrelevant because the poem was meaningful to the one person who mattered … my mother.

Poem by Norman A Stricker

Poem by Norman A Stricker

Grace For Infirmity

The ravages of Alzheimer’s Disease are taking a toll on my 91-year-old mother-in-law. My Beloved’s daily visits to the assisted living facility where she resides have become ever more perplexing as the communication barrier widens. Still the loving son, his perseverance in ministering to her needs – even when it seems impossible to penetrate the fog – causes me to admire him all the more.foto_google_alzheimer

I’ve been fortunate that my mother (at 88) doesn’t have the added challenge of dementia; macular degeneration has its own way of challenging a person. One time, Mom had failed to hydrate properly and suffered serious hallucinations (an odd phenomenon considering her blindness), but that situation has been avoidable as long as she’s drinking plenty of water. Continue Reading →

Penitent Sister

Hill-coverAfter yesterday’s post, I laughed and laughed because that was a fun post to write! I told my Beloved, I don’t care if anybody else enjoys the post, I had fun writing it!

But suddenly, in the midst of my laughter, it occurred to me the joke actually might end up being on me! There’s sort of an unwritten rule about lampooning … if the object one uses hasn’t earned iconic status, the joke almost always falls flat.

In my case, I got to thinking about the news reports I’ve been reading that indicate Hillary Clinton’s recent book release isn’t getting the numbers (in sales) that everyone hoped. Uh-oh!

One headline reads:  No one is reading “Hard Choices,” either. The article beneath the headline notes people may purchase but fail to complete the tome. Using a metric that gauges how far into a book readers progress before setting the book aside, Amazon rates Hard Choices as averaging a dismal 2.04%. That’s about 33 pages through this volume of 657 pages!

Another headline says:  Execs on notice after Hillary’s book sales tank. Let me quickly point out that “tank” is a relative term. It would probably be kinder to say the book has not performed as publishers and booksellers had hoped, but its fourth-place standing on the Nielsen book-scan list is hardly the tank.

However, as I began to think about whether or not the book (cover art shown above) has yet to earn “iconic status” – as in immediately recognizable by almost everyone who sees it – I’m not comfortable believing the book has yet reached that pinnacle. Hence, my need to admit the joke’s probably on me, because few may have understood my silly effort was meant to lampoon! Silly me!

Egg on my face, yep. But did that stop me? What do you think? Continue Reading →

Dream A Little Dream

As a writer, I’m subject to the same inclinations as almost every other writer throughout time:  the unquenchable desire to have my words appear in print. I have had the privilege of selling poetry, prose and fiction, but to date, there isn’t a book on the shelf that declares me as its author.im-writing-a-book

Of course, I’ve compiled a book for you to write (another link here), but I consider that a completely different product. This particular book does have my name in it … but not on the cover because you must tell your story as you complete the book and only you can tell that story (not me).

When I was a younger woman, I often dreamed about the books I wanted to write … someday. I also used to dream about an agent (or a publishing house) calling me out of the blue to solicit my upcoming bestseller! (I told you it was a dream!) I had this delusional notion that my brilliance was so obvious, these publishing entities should jump at the chance to snag me into their stable, though I’d never even produced a book-length manuscript!! [I have now but it's non-fiction.] Continue Reading →

Fleeing Silence

Silence. Many of us don’t do well coping with silence. In my own case, I’m a second-generation silence-shunner. During my childhood, I remember my mother almost always had a radio playing in the background. Both she and my dad slept to the muffled sounds of a radio providing ambient noise.

Music provides my preferred background sounds and I have a diverse collection of music on iTunes, a couple weeks’ worth, if played 24/7. At night, I don’t use a radio (deferring to my Beloved!) but I usually rely on a fan for constant sound. 

Some mothers who’ve raised their offspring are known to dread the silence that results from an empty nest. Suddenly-single spouses (whether single by death or divorce) may encounter the loneliness of silence causing unexpected stress. In fact, the concepts of loneliness and silence are often coupled. Excruciating loss (as one suffers after death of a spouse) brings both loneliness and silence into painful focus. (Thankfully, I’m not speaking from experience, but I can imagine.) Continue Reading →

Unlocking the Gnome Genome

FROM: Gartenzwerg by EddyDD

With all that’s going on in the world right now, it’s a fitting day for whimsy …don’t you think?

Anticipating the arrival of my European relatives in a couple weeks, I couldn’t help but think about my Germanic roots and how those roots have influenced my life, probably in ways I know as well as via my subconscious.

Gnomes are a whimsical creation of German origin, so I’m told by various online resources. The Brothers Grimm (who else?) included their tale number 91, The Gnome, in one of their collections of fairy tales.

Every time I read (or re-read) one of these fairy tales, I’m reminded how absolutely unfiltered these stories are. This amuses me because I know literature for children today covers certain allowable themes while other themes are way off limits. I think Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm would be aghast at today’s strict and puzzling approach. Continue Reading →

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